Flooding along 71 puts morning rush to halt

Early Friday morning, rushing water on Highway 71 in the Garfield area put the morning rush to a halt. Drivers were blocked from taking 71 into Austin and in the opposite direction heading into Bastrop County. 

Fox 7 reporter Nick Spinetto alerted police after he saw someone drive into the water. 

Thankfully first responders helped them get back to safety. 

Later, daylight revealed the damage on 71.  A tire shop took a big hit.  Two cars in the parking lot nearly completely underwater. As water receded, TXDOT crews worked to clean up debris and asess the damage. The road opened back up a little before 1.

Russ Wilborn couldn't get to work Friday because of the 71 closure. He had his work cut out for him at home anyway.

"Got up at 4:30 this morning and water was 2 inches away from being in the house already and the cars were already waist deep. I managed to have enough time to get everything off the floor before it started coming in the house," Wilborn said.

Wilborn says his home was damaged during one of the last floods too.

"I'm going to have to gut the whole floor again. I can't leave the moisture in there, all the insulation is going to have to come out, all the flooring," he said.

Next door to Wilborn is a "cable wakeboard Park" called Next Level Ride.

"You take laps around a 15 acre lake and you can either just ride or there's obstacles.  Kind of like a skate park but on the water," said owner Niki Sotkovski.

Sotkovski says the damage this time is not near as bad as what the the Halloween flood did to them. But she says it's still about a $10,000 setback.

"It looks like we might have about a week or two of fixing and just making sure that it's safe for people to ride again," she said.

Wilborn, who builds homes for a living, says he believes the wakeboard park is causing the flooding in his neighborhood.

"I don't think the shedding was created right, I don't think the braun situation was created right, this water is not running like it should. Water should be able to run right through here," he said. 

Sotkovski says that's not the case.

"Regardless of whether the park is here, the water would still be here. We have engineers in Austin and working with the city for the past couple of years specifically designing a tank in the flood zone so whenever it does flood and it does rain, our watershed will not affect the downstream of the flood," she said.

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